In July 2015, author Ronald Kessler was interviewed by Newsmax about the business practices of GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump in regards to building a golf course in the south.
“When Donald opened his club in Palm Beach called Mar-a-Lago, he insisted on accepting Jews and blacks even though other clubs in Palm Beach to this day discriminate against blacks and Jews,” Kessler said. “The old guard in Palm Beach was outraged that Donald would accept blacks and Jews so that’s the real Donald Trump that I know.”
Back in the 1990s, the real estate mogul faced a problem trying to get approval for his golf course by Palm Beach’s local town council because they were placing restrictions on his bid. This forced Trump to fight back with a lot more effort.
Here is what Rosalind Helderman and Mary Jordan of the Washington Post reported on November 14th, 2015:
“Trump undercut his adversaries with a searing attack, claiming that local officials seemed to accept the established private clubs in town that had excluded Jews and blacks while imposing tough rules on his inclusive one.”
Here is more from the Washington Post’s report:
“Trump’s lawyer sent every member of the town council copies of two classic movies about discrimination: ‘A Gentleman’s Agreement,’ about a journalist who pretends to be Jewish to expose anti-Semitism, and ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’ about a white couple’s reaction to their daughter bringing home a black fiancé.”
Segregation at all-white private country clubs in the South had been common and many businesspeople would have looked the other way. But Trump pushed for desegregation at the golf resort, which led to his bid winning.
Not long afterwards, the local restrictions had been lifted on the resort and it is now an open and inclusive golf course.
Trump takes pride in this accomplishment, which he mentioned in an interview in 2015.
“Whether they love me or not, everyone agrees the greatest and most important place in Palm Beach is Mar-a-Lago,” Trump said. “I took this ultimate place and made it incredible and opened it, essentially, to the people of Palm Beach. The fact that I owned it made it a lot easier to get along with the Palm Beach establishment.”
During this time in 1997, Abraham Foxman gave praise to Trump for bringing the issue of discrimination at private country clubs to light. Foxman was the president of the Anti-Defamation League back then. He told the following to the Wall Street Journal:
“He put the light on Palm Beach. Not on the beauty and the glitter, but on its seamier side of discrimination. It has an impact.” Foxman praised Trump for what he did and for encouraging other private clubs throughout Palm Beach to desegregate their resorts as well.
This is an example of the real Trump. He was fighting against discrimination way before he ever ran for office by getting local planning regulators to change their exclusive policies. Trump was determined to make big changes and he beat the odds in doing so.
So when a reporter asked Trump about David Duke’s endorsement of him during a press conference on February 26th, 2016, Trump disavowed him.
“I didn’t even know he endorsed me. David Duke endorsed me? All right, I disavow, OK,” Trump said while at the press conference. Then he quickly moved on to other questions.
Trump also disavowed David Duke six months before the press conference.
The story didn’t end there though. When Trump was interviewed by Jake Tapper on the CNN show “State of the Union,” the media attacked Trump when they didn’t find his second response satisfactory.
“I don’t know anything about David Duke,” Trump said. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. I know nothing about white supremacists… You’re asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.”
One day after that interview, Trump went on the NBC program “The Today Show” where he was asked about it again.
“I disavowed David Duke a day before at a major press conference, and I’m saying to myself, how many times do I have to continue to disavow people?” Trump said.
“I disavowed David Duke. Now, if you look on Facebook right after that, I also disavowed David Duke. When we looked at it — looked at the question, I disavowed David Duke. So, I disavowed David Duke all weekend long on Facebook, on Twitter and, obviously it’s never enough. Ridiculous.”
Trump may have not been so eloquent in disavowing David Duke, but the fact is he did disavow the endorsement numerous times. Either way, it didn’t hurt his status in the primary election because he went on to win seven states out of eleven on the following Super Tuesday.